LOS ANGELES — It's likely Braves right-hander Touki Toussaint will start this weekend in Colorado, manager Brian Snitker said. Toussaint pitched an inning in relief during the team's win over the Giants on Sunday and last started Aug. 22.
With Ian Anderson back in the mix, the Braves have a crowded rotation. The temporary move is to use a six-man mix, which would include Toussaint starting this weekend. Snitker did make the statement with the caveat that Toussaint wouldn't be needed earlier this week in relief.
Charlie Morton and Max Fried, the team's two best pitchers, are slated to start the next two games in Los Angeles. Lefty Drew Smyly started the series opener Monday, giving up four homers across 4-2/3 innings in a loss.
It's been a frustrating month for Smyly, who's allowed seven home runs over his past two outings and 27 overall this season. Smyly owns a 6.08 ERA in five August starts. His fastball velocity has dipped from 93.8 a season ago to 92.1 now; his cutter velocity has dropped from 89.3 to 87.5 in the same time.
Manager Brian Snitker wondered if the velocity drop related to Smyly's workload after pitching so little during the shortened 2020 season. The southpaw pitched 26-1/3 innings a season ago. He's logged 115-2/3 innings thus far in 2021. Smyly maintained it wasn't a wear and tear issue.
"I don't think it's arm strength, I think it's just executing pitches," Smyly said. "I thought the life on my pitches was better today than it's been in quite a while. Sometimes you don't get the results."
Smyly has logged six innings once in his past 10 outings. He's allowed six or more hits in six of those starts, including 12 home runs.
As the games continue increasing in importance, the Braves might eventually decide to bump Smyly out of the rotation should his recent performance continue. For now, the six-man rotation route keeps Smyly in the group. His next start will be at Coors Field against the Rockies or at Truist Park against the Nationals, depending on how the Braves align their starters.
Toussaint, meanwhile, has been generally excellent since he came off the 60-day injured list and started his first game July 20. He allowed two or fewer runs in six of his first seven starts, exceeding six innings three times in that span.
Toussaint owns a 40:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 innings. A young player previously plagued by erratic command, Toussaint has made encouraging steps forward in 2021, showing the consistency that eluded him since debuting in 2018.
The Braves have 31 games remaining following Tuesday's contest in L.A. They have options for how they want to handle their pitching staff, especially when rosters expand by two spots in September.